Fig, Walnut and Almond Biscotti

I’ve not had much biscotti, but I loved it every time I had the chance to have one. My most recent biscotti experience is at Hare & Grace, and I had it their creme brulee which was quite a different experience. But it did provide a crunch to the creamy, rich dessert, which by now you would know is a good thing for me! (: Plus I saw one of the foodies on tweeter make her own biscotti a while back, and have been wanting to make my own ever since!

I’m addicted to figs. When I went to Auckland in April, my aunt had a fig tree and I could just head down to the garden and pluck one or maybe 4 to have it when I was craving it. How awesome is that? hehe So of course, I made the Mr plant a fig tree in our garden hehe and hopefully we will get figs soon! *fingers crossed* So of course, when I was deciding on what I wanted in my biscotti, figs just came to my mind! Trust me, it was so difficult to resist popping one of those beautiful figs in my mouth, cause I needed every single one of them in the packet! haha But I’m so glad I did, cause the biscotti came out packed filled with figs, and it was super yums!

So I looked through my endless list of bookmarked recipes, and found a fig and walnut biscotti recipe by the super talented Brown Eyed Baker! And I knew her recipe would definitely be yummy cause she is Italian! Who would know how to make a better biscotti than an Italian herself? hehe I was really excited, and there wasn’t a better day to make it but Friday, especially when I’m off work early! hehe PERFECT!

Note : I really like this recipe because it doesn’t need butter, which means you can start making it as soon as you get home from work, without worrying if the butter is the right softness! hehe Also, you can switch the kind of dried fruit and nuts you want as well, so you can make it according to how you like it! A clear winner to me (:

Fig, Walnut & Almond Biscotti (adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker)

1 3/4 cups plain flour

3/4 cups dark brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp fleur de sel (you can replace this with coarse salt)

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla paste

1 tbs orange zest (I used a navel orange)

375g dried figs, cut into quarters

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup slivered almonds

Steps :

1) Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or baking paper and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, mix the flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder, fluer de sel until well combined. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until they become thick and pale yellow. Then add the orange zest and vanilla paste and mix it well.

3) Fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined. Then mix in the dried figs and nuts.

4) Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and divide it into two. With floured hands, shape it into logs, about 2 1/2 inches wide and 8-10 inches long. Place the logs onto the prepared Silpat/baking paper.

5) Place in the oven and bake until the dough is firm but gives slightly when pressed. This will take about 25-30 minutes. Transfer the logs onto a wire rack and let it cool for 10-15 minutes. Do not rush to cut the logs, especially when they are still warm, as they will crumble and break apart! Reduce the oven to 150 degrees celcius.

6) Once the logs are cooled, cut them into 1/2 inch slices. Place the slices on the Silpat and bake for 7 minutes on each side. Transfer the slices onto the wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container and ENJOY! (:

ps : I was lucky enough to have a bottle of this in my pantry, but I’m sure using normal sea salt would do the job as well! (: 

 

Crab, Prawn & Cherry Tomato Linguini

Yes, I know. I’m proclaiming my love for Italian food again. But I am not going to apologise for that. I really do love Italian. If not cause of the carbs, I would eat pasta every single day. haha. But I have limit to once a week. The most! That’s okay, right? haha

Well. I didn’t intend to have Italian until my bestie sent me photos of what she was having at Da Paolo @ Rochester last night and I knew instantly what I wanted to try making : Crab meat linguini. That’s the only thing I order when I head to Da Paolo. Just saying the name of the place is making me want to have their crab meat linguini again. That’s how much I LOVE it. and how delicious it is!

Sorry bad lighting cos of the ambience!

I attempted to make a healthier version. Well by healthier, I mean leaving out the cream. As you will be able to see soon, everything else is healthy and not that sinful, really. Well without or without the cream, my version is nothing close to the one from Da Paolo though it was still satifying and yummy (The mr finished every single drop in the pot! hehe). But it was still a recipe worth blogging about! Hope you all will give it a try and enjoy it as much as we did!

Crab, Prawn & Cherry Tomato Linguini (an original recipe by Food Made With Love)

Ingredients :

1 canned crab meat (170g, 120g drained)

10 pieces of prawns, shelled & deveined and cut to small pieces

10 cherry tomatoes

2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 chilli, deseed and chopped finely

5 pieces of sundried tomato, chopped finely

3 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tbs tomato paste

1 tsp dried oregano

120ml dry white wine

300ml fish stock

salt & pepper, to season

grated parmesan, to serve

300g pasta, cooked according to the back of the packaging and drained

Steps :

1) Season the cherry tomatoes with a bit of the chopped garlic, 1 tbs olive oil and dried oregano and place them on a baking tray. In a 180 degree celcius preheated oven, bake the tomatoes for 15 mins.

2) Heat a deep dish pan over moderate heat, add the olive oil, garlic, chilli and sundried tomatoes and fry till soft and fragrant. Careful not to burn the garlic, or it will taste bitter.

3) Add the prawns in the mixture and fry till they turn from opaque to white. Add the baked cherry tomatoes (including all the juices) and the tomato paste. Mix it well but gently, not to mash the cherry tomatoes. Add the white wine and allow it to reduce by half.

4) Add the fish stock and allow it to simmer over low-medium heat for 15-20 mins. Season with salt and black pepper and add the crab meat at this point. (Don’t add it too early, as it might break down and you won’t be able to taste it).

5) Toss in the cooked pasta and mix well. Serve with grated parmesan and ENJOY!

Tip :

Instead of chopping garlic when you need it, chop it before hand and place it in a air tight glass container. Cover it with olive oil and you’ve not only got garlic-infused olive oil to use whenever you need to, you have chopped garlic all ready to go! (: Place them in the fridge and you should be able to keep it for up to a month! I would recommend not making too huge a container. Maybe prepare a container every 1-2 weeks depending on how big a fan you are of garlic!

A Come Back : Ragu

I do apologise sincerely for my lack of posts since the end of last year. For those who don’t know, I was really busy with my wedding preparations and that’s really all I have been up to the past 3 months! and yes, I am married! (:

And after the wedding, it was our amazing honeymoon in Bali and then it was Chinese New Year. Not sure about you guys, but CNY is a time to just spend with family and feast! haha

Well. I am back! And for the first post of 2012, I am blogging about one of my favourite cuisines. Italian.

Who doesn’t like Italian? I love love love love pastas. Creamy, tomato-y, squid ink. You name it, I love it. haha. That’s how much I love pastas. A habit of mine (a good one I think!) is to try out some of the yummy dishes I had in restaurants/cafes. So far, I’ve tried making lasagne, gnocchi, risottos. One thing that I’ve always wanted to try is ragu.I remember watching the Italian Food Safari and said to myself “You really gotta try to make this one day”

Tonight was the night. I took out my “Simply Italian” cookbook bought by my mummy (underused in my opinion) and flipped through the book from the first page to the last and found a ragu recipe! So I decided to swing by Springvale Market after work & got the ingredients and whipped it up for dinner.

A keeper. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I could just eat the ragu without any pasta. The flavour was amazing. I use to think it’s like a bolognese. But it’s so much more. A pity I didn’t have time to cook it a little longer, I’m pretty sure it would taste even better when the meats have all broken down into the tomato base. mmm.

Ragu (adapted from Simply Italian by Sophie Braimbridge)

Ingredients :

60g butter

90g pancetta, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 celery, finely chopped

1 carrot, grated

250g minced beef

200g minced pork

200g chicken livers, trimmed and finely chopped

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

125ml milk

125ml dry white wine

250ml beef stock

400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 heap tbs tomato paste

salt and pepper

grated Parmesan, to serve

Steps :

1. Heat the butter in a heavy based saucepan and add the pancetta. Cook until lightly brown and add the onion, celery and carrot. Cook over moderate heat for about 8 mins or until soften, stirring from time to time.

2. Add the minced beef, pork and oregano to the saucepan. Season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper.

3. Cook for about 5 mins, or until the meat has changed colour but not browned. Add the chicken liver and cook till it changes colour.

4. Stir in the milk and simmer for a couple of minutes. Pour in the wine and increase the heat and allow it to boil for 2-3 minutes or until the wine is absorbed. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and half of the stock, partially covering the pan and allow it to cook for a minimum of 1 hour (optimally, 3 hours). Add more stock as it is needed to keep the sauce moist.

6. To serve, cook pasta of your choice according to the package, drain and toss the pasta with the ragu sauce and serve with grate Parmesan.

ENJOY! (:

ps : store leftovers in the fridge up to 3 days or in the freezer for a month (:

Not Your Usual Lasagne.

Who doesn’t like lasagne? The layers of rich meat sauce with cheese. Doesn’t just saying that line make you want to sink your teeth into it? It’s one of my source of comforts. Besides garlic mash, mac and cheese. haha okie. the list could go on. I think food, on the whole, is my comfort. hee.

When I was deciding what to cook for dinner, lasagne came straight to my mind. But I was hoping to cook something a bit healthier. so layers of vegetables was the only thing that I could think of! And as colourful as they can get! I think I got it all covered. Swede (yellow), eggplant (purple), zucchini (green) and the meat sauce (red/orange). I couldn’t help myself. (:

of course, I made a little bit of white sauce to combine all the veg together so that they could stay (kinda) in shape! Guilty! but SO GOOD! (:

Tomatoey goodness (: It was a big hit among the boys! They loved it. I know it looks heavy, but i only sprinkled a bit of mozzarella cheese on the top to melt under the grill for the last 5 mins before serving. It’s worth the extra calories, I say. haha

So here’s the recipe, a Food Made With Love original (:

Ingredients :

400g mince (beef or pork)

1 big onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tbs olive oil

1 carrot, grated

1 green capsicum, finely diced

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

3 tbs tomato paste

1 can (400g) tinned chopped tomatoes

3 swedes, sliced thinly

1 large eggplant, sliced thinly

2 zucchini, sliced thinly

100g spinach

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the simple white sauce :

150ml milk

50g butter

3 tbs plain flour

50g parmesan

salt and pepper, to taste

grated mozzarella, to finish

Steps :

1. After slicing the eggplant, salt both sides and allow it to stand on a rack for 30 mins. Pat them dry and set them aside. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celcius.

2. Heat a frying pan with the olive oil, fry the onion and garlic till soft and fragrant. Add the carrot and capsicum and fry for a further 5 minutes.

3. Add the mince and fry till brown. Make sure there are no chunks. Add the tomato paste and dried herbs, stir till well combined. Add the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, stir and allow the liquid to reduce till almost totally dry.

4. In a baking dish, lay the eggplant at the bottom and top with the meat sauce. Top with a layer of spinach. Then layer the zucchini, another layer of eggplant and swede.

5. The white sauce : Melt the butter in a small pot over low-medium, add the flour and stir, allowing it to cook for 3 mins. Add the milk and using a whisk, make sure it is well combined and there are no lumps. Add the parmesan and stir until sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper. If it is too thick, just add a bit more milk.

6. Pour the white sauce over the baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes. Take the baking dish out and top with mozzarella cheese and put it under a grill for 5 minutes or until golden brown!

SERVE and ENJOY! (:

What is your favourite comfort food of all time ?

For The Love of Italian Food

Italian food is one of my favourite cuisines. I cannot have enough of it! Whether it comes in big portions at family restaurants or small portions at fine dining places, I love them all! It’s no secret one of my favourite kind of food to cook is italian. Especially pasta!

One of the staples in this household is spaghetti and meatballs. Another is spaghetti bolognese. Especially on days that I have work or uni. Just cause it’s so quick and easy to whip up and it’s always yummy! (: And thoroughly enjoyed by everyone! However, on days that I have time to just be in the kitchen and cook something I really love, one of the few things I end up making is risotto.

One of my all time favourite risotto is without a doubt mushroom risotto. Especially when there is porcini in it. The flavour would just be so intense. I could fall in love. (: and with a mixture of different kinds of mushrooms. Just talking about it puts a smile on my face!

So after weeks of work and a hectic week of rushing an assignment to meet a deadline. I finally got a chance to be in the kitchen and cook something I love without rushing. Having the time to myself just to enjoy the whole process. And gain some arm muscles, I must add, with all the stirring. haha.

Even though it takes a long time to get it to where it should be, and it takes a lot of strength to stir it continuously. And also alot of concentration to make sure it doesn’t dry out. But trust me, it will all be worth the time and effort. Every single spoonful will be worth it! (:

So here is the recipe I came up with on my own! An original! Whoopeedoo! hehe Always exciting to come up with my own recipe. Hope you all will enjoy it!

Seafood Risotto (A Food Made With Love Original)

Ingredients

150g aborio rice

4 cups stock (I used chicken stock)

1/2 cup white wine

550g seafood

1 big onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

6 pieces of sundried tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp hot paprika

1 tbs tomato paste

1 tbs yogurt (could use cream)

3 tbs olive oil

2 tbs parmesan cheese, extra to serve

25g butter

salt & pepper, to taste

Steps :

1. For the seafood: Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a frying pan, and add 1 tbs of chopped onion and 1 tsp chopped garlic. Fry till fragrant. Add 1 tsp of chopped sundried tomatoes and fry for a couple more minutes.

2. Add the seafood and allow it to fry for 5 mins. Add the chilli powder and fry for another minute. Set a bit of the seafood aside to garnish.

3. For the risotto: Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a deep frying pan, add the rest of the chopped onion, garlic and sundried tomatoes and fry till onion becomes translucent and is softened (about 5 mins). Add the rice and make sure the rice gets coated with the oil.

4. Pour the wine into the frying pan and stir until it has reduced to half. Add the chopped tomatoes and two ladles of stock and stir continuously until absorbed. Continue to add the stock (1 ladle at the time), stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked but still al dente. This should take about 20-25 minutes.

5. Stir in the seafood, paprika, tomato paste and yogurt and stir till well combined (Stir gently, so that the fish will not crumble. You want it to keep its shape!). Add the parmesan and butter into the risotto. Season to taste.

6. Divide into plates, lightly tap it to allow it to spread. Place the seafood that was set aside on top to garnish. Top with parmesan and serve.

ENJOY!